5 Facts About The World Famous And Wild Texas Prison Rodeo
For decades, the Texas Prison Rodeo was something of a staple of Texas culture. It drew insanely huge crowds to watch inmates compete in various rodeo events. What started out as a way to get some entertainment for inmates and employees, became a tradition that thousands upon thousands would attend.
Here's 5 facts about the world famous, and wild, Texas Prison Rodeo.
1. The Texas Prison Rodeo Lasted For Over 5 Decades
It was started in 1931. Supposedly, it was started just as a means for the inmates and staff to get some entertainment. Considering it was the depression, you could understand why.
Originally, the crowd consisted of some locals and those from the prison. It wouldn't take long, and people would start making the trip to Huntsville to attend.
The last rodeo was held in 1986, and even though there were attempts to revive the rodeo, it never came back.
2. 40 Inmates Vs One Angry Bull In The "Hard Money" Event
The "Hard Money" event was one of the favorites of the Prison Rodeo. A tobacco sack would be stuffed with cash and then tied to the horn of a pretty angry bull.
The bull would then be released, and around 40 inmates in red shirts would do their best to snag the bag without catching the business end of the bull...if you know what I mean.
According to the Texas Prison Museum, the prize money would start at $50. When donations poured in, it could be as much as $1,500.
3. Female Inmates Were Allowed To Compete
There were events set aside for female inmates, as well. While all of these events weren't the same as the events set aside for men, they did offer plenty of entertainment.
The events included calf roping, greased pig sacking, and barrel racing.
4. Attendance Peaked At 100,000
According to the Texas State Historical Association, attendance of the Prison Rodeo peaked sometime around the 1960s. The peak? 100,000.
Near the end, the Prison Rodeo was still drawing tens of thousands of spectators every year.
5. Celebrities Performed At The Texas Prison Rodeo
Entertainment was the name of the game at the Texas Prison Rodeo. There were inmates singing country and western songs.
There were even major stars who would be invited to perform.
Names like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, George Strait, and Willie Nelson pop up when you go digging through celebrity sightings at the Texas Prison Rodeo. The final rodeo was graced by none other than The Judds.